Play shows off Kodachrome moments
Austin-based humorist Pat Hazell cut his comedic teeth as one of the original writers of the first season of "Seinfeld." Since then he's penned popular plays such as "The Wonder Bread Years," a silly salute to everything Baby Boomer.
Now, Hazell brings his comedic Christmas creation to Austin for the first time.
"A Kodachrome Christmas" finds Earlene Hoople taping the holiday special of her cable access program. And with the audience playing the role of, well, the live audience, Hoople rambles, from reading letters to Mrs. Claus to passing out snickerdoodles to narrating a wacky family slide show.
Hazell answered questions about the Austinized version of "A Kodachrome Christmas."
American-Statesman: You debuted `A Kodachrome Christmas' at Pittsburgh's City Theatre last year. How did you re-fashion it for Austin?
Pat Hazell: The location changed from Butler, Pennsylvania, to Dripping Springs, Texas, and the various graphics and local phrases were tweaked to make it feel closer to home. The character of Earlene Hoople - the self-proclaimed "queen of rural media" - has been given a makeover and is now younger and more vibrant. She is still nuttier than your grandma's fruitcake but she represents all the wonderful things about the hostess-with-the-mostest that makes Christmas come to be. The new actress, Marianne Curan, is a phenom, and once she channels Miss Earlene, she is dangerously funny.
What was the inspiration for the slide show that marks the end of the show?
I remember from my youth all the relatives sprawled out on the two-toned carpet in anticipation of seeing themselves in the family slide show. Everyone wisecracking and reminiscing. The commentary was so lively and spirited that I wanted to bring it back to life. It was like going to the drive-in in your own living room. Now with digital pictures on cell phones and computers, there is no community viewing of family photos.
Where did you find the slides and what were you looking for?
My slide search began with an all-points bulletin to friends and family. Then it was extended to the theater staff and subscribers last year. Then we stumbled onto some random slides on the Internet, and that gamble turned up some real gems. We wanted a variety of warm, funny and candid moments. Some needed to reinforce characters mentioned earlier in the shows; others inspired fake sponsors and breaking news stories.
There is nothing quite like Kodachrome for a blast of nostalgia. Sadly, Dec 30. is the last time you will be able to process any of your Kodachrome images. And the last place left processing it is Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas. So by New Year's Day, unfortunately, they will have taken our Kodachrome away.
'A Kodachrome Christmas'
When: 3 and 7 p.m. today, 8 p.m. Dec. 15-18, 3 p.m. Dec. 18-19, 7 p.m. Dec. 19
Where: Rollins Studio Theater, Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive
Information: 474-5664. www.thelongcenter.org .